By Rathindra Kuruwita
Minister of Energy, Udaya Gammanpila yesterday said the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery would be closed for 50 days, but the closure would not affect fuel supplies.
Addressing the media yesterday in Colombo, the Minister said the government had been compelled to adopt that measure as it was utilising its limited foreign reserves frugally.
“Our refinery is 51-years-old. Out of the total production of the refinery, 37% is furnace oil and naphtha, 19% jet fuel and 43% petrol and diesel. Due to heavy rains, the CEB produces over 50% of electricity with hydro power. Thus, the Ministry of Power has informed us that it does not need furnace oil. Moreover only long distance flights need jet fuel. Thus, there is little sense to import crude oil because 56% of it is used for producing furnace oil and jet fuel. Those reserves can be used to import petrol, diesel, medicines, food, gas and other essential goods,” the minister said.
Minister Gammanpila said that the refinery only produced 14% of the country’s total petrol needs and 29% of diesel needs of the country. He added that Sri Lanka spent about USD 350 million a month to import fuel.
“The CPC finds it extremely hard to obtain loans. Given that international rating agencies have downgraded Sri Lanka, it has become really hard to get loans. We will start importing crude oil when the balance of payment crisis is over,” he said.